Your Pet and Thanksgiving Food

November 22, 2017 at 9:45 PM by Nikki Wardle

Pets and food at thanksgiving

Your Pet and Thanksgiving Food

It's time to indulge at the Thanksgiving table and eat until we all have to let out a few notches in our belts. During the festive meals of the holidays, it can be tempting to get Fido or Fluffy in on the fun and give your dog or cat a plate full of leftovers. Pause before loading up their food bowl with turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, though. What looks harmless to you could spell gastrointestinal distress—or worse—for your pet. Here’s what you need to know before giving your pet any Thanksgiving leftovers.

Thanksgiving Leftovers for Pets

Thanksgiving is a fun time for humans, but it can be terrifying for your dog. They’ll likely be around many new faces as your guests visit, and be tantalized by the smell of good food they’re not allowed to touch. This will certainly make you want to slip Rover a turkey leg under the table but think twice.


Dogs and cats are carnivores, so turkey may seem like the perfect thing to give your pet from the Thanksgiving table. Wrong. The risk of salmonella is very real and could be harmful to your pet, as well as the chance of them choking on a brittle turkey bone. Turkey skin could also be a potential problem for your pet since they could choke on it and can’t digest it properly. Avoid giving a piece of the bird to your pet.

Vegetables and Fruit

Fruit and vegetable sides may be your next thought—and it’s true, there are some that are alright for your dog to eat, and even healthy. There are others that can be decidedly harmful, and it’s your job to know the difference before sharing with your pet.

Any dishes with onions or other alliums (garlic, leeks, and scallions) are a no-no for your dogs and cats, as they can cause anemia and even organ damage leading to death in large doses. Grapes and raisins can also be harmful, causing kidney failure even in small amounts depending on your dog’s sensitivity.

On the OK-to-eat list are sweet vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and winter squash. Be sure that you don’t overwhelm your dog’s digestive system with too many new things at once, and watch portion sizes.


Perhaps to some pet-owners surprise, stuffing is on the no list when it comes to sharing with your dog or cat. Stuffing almost always contains alliums—garlic and onion—as well as sage and other ingredients that are less than ideal for your dog or cat. Don’t share your stuffing with your pets.

Other Things to Avoid

Don’t give your dog or cat chocolate, alcohol, or any items you know contain xylitol or nuts. When in doubt, grab a dog or cat treat from the pantry and skip the human food altogether. There’s a reason there’s human food and dog food; food that may make you pleasantly comfortable after a meal on the couch could cause your beloved pet distress.

If you have questions about your pet’s diet, contact us. Happy Thanksgiving!

Topics: Pet Care

Nikki Wardle

Written by Nikki Wardle

Nikki has been writing for Intermountain Pet Hospital since 2014.

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